Los Angeles comptroller Ron Galperin enters California state comptroller race

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What will likely be one of the most hotly contested races statewide in California will heat up on Thursday when Los Angeles City Comptroller Ron Galperin announces he is running for California Comptroller , learned The Chronicle.

Galperin, who will be named to the city office this year, enters a field that already includes Republican Lanhee Chen, a former White House adviser to George W. Bush, and Democrat Malia Cohen, State Council Chairwoman. of Equalization and former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Democrat Yvonne Yiu, a financial adviser and Monterey Park City Council member, is also a candidate. Galperin would be the first openly LGBTQ state comptroller if elected.

The data controller is that of California chief financial officer and can audit any government agency that spends public funds.

Galperin’s entry into the race blurs his political calculations. So far, Chen could have qualified for November’s general election as the only Republican in the race, expected to capture most of the 24% of registered voters who are Republicans plus a share of conservative-leaning independents. He is considered the GOP’s best asset to win statewide office.

But what two candidates come out of the June 7 primary isn’t as easy to predict now, depending on how Cohen and Galperin divide the 46% of California voters who are registered Democrats plus the more left-leaning independents. State.

Galperin’s jump into the statewide contest came as a bit of a surprise, considering he put out a bid for the Los Angeles County supervisor position last May. Galperin told The Chronicle that while he felt his county race fundraiser was solidhe realized that he would rather go for a job he knew – and enjoyed.

“To be honest, I really realized where my great passion lies, what gets me up in the morning, what makes me jazzed up and what makes me want to do what I do,” Galperin said. “And we only live once in a lifetime. And so we better do what we find most meaningful.

Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles, said there was also a political calculation in Galperin’s decision.

“This (supervisor) race is incredibly crowded,” said Sonenshein, author of three books on Los Angeles politics. “And it’s not crowded with weak candidates, it’s crowded with strong candidates, including (Galperin).”

Galperin’s pitch for the statewide job is simple: “I’m the one with the experience to do this job” for the nation’s second-largest city, he said.

“We need someone to step in, who will be able to do this job from day one. We are the fifth largest economy in the world and we cannot allow an office like the Comptroller to be with inexperienced people, no matter how well-intentioned or willing to do the job.

Galperin said he would like to adopt some of the online tools the Los Angeles office uses to track public dollars at the state level, such as LA checkbook, which allows users to see in detail how taxpayers’ money is being spent.

“I think creating this kind of radical transparency is good for everyone,” Galperin said.

Sonenshein said that in addition to twice winning the municipal elections in California’s largest city, Galperin is likely to have a distinct advantage over his opponents: he’s likely to have the word “controller” next to his name as a designation for vote. That could give him added credibility, especially among uninformed voters in a generally low profile race.

But Galperin also faces a tough climb. Cohen and Chen have been running for months. Chen raised $1.1 million, according to financial statements. A spokesperson for Cohen said this week that she had raised just over $1 million by the end of 2021.

Cohen, who would be California’s first black controller, has already gotten major Democratic endorsements, including five statewide office holders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland and several major labor organizations. Current state comptroller Betty Yee had endorsed Cohen and now endorses Cohen and Galperin.

Chen has been endorsed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and also has several members of the California House GOP.

Joe Garofoli is the San Francisco Chronicle’s senior political editor. Email: jgarofoli@sfchronicle.comTwitter: @joegarofoli

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